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Archives and Collections
The archives and collections of the Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation are site-specific and relate to the history of the locale. In the archives are approximately three thousand photographs, two hundred maps and drawings, various account books and business records, oral interviews, and films. Primarily the archival holdings document the running of a large ranching enterprise by the Bixby family between 1878 and 1952. As of 1921, this enterprise was financed by profits from local oil strikes, and a total of thirty-three ranches in California, Arizona, and New Mexico came under the ownership or management of the Bixby family at one time or another during the next thirty years. Some of the interviews, accounts, and photographs in the archives illustrate the lives of ranch workers and their families and of tenant farmers during this period, and a comprehensive series of photographs records the evolution of Rancho Los Alamitos’s historic gardens. Because the history of the use and occupancy of the mesa by humans stretches back to a.d. 500, the archives contain a small amount of secondary material on the patterns of Native American settlement, the Rancho period, and early ranching in the area. Although the foundation is not a collecting organization, the site itself and the buildings and gardens are historic and over 95 percent of the collections are original to the site. The adobe ranch house was occupied by the Bixby family between 1878 and 1962. The furnishings and art selected by the family show the aesthetic influence of both the Victorian age and the Arts and Crafts movement, yet the dominant character of the house is its warmth as an unpretentious family residence.